tv The Cycle MSNBC January 28, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
axis of evil. >> what comes of this moment will be determined not whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow. [ applause ] >> yes, i thought i would have to wait until november to hear that music again. you are now in "the cycle," and tonight is the president's fifth state of the union address, and you know it's a big deal when we've got a countdown clock going. >> yeah. >> t-minus 6 hours until the pomp and circumstance in the house chamber, but this year, the president is addressing the nation amid some pretty terrible poll numbers. we spoke about the "washington post" poll yesterday. it is a pox on both of the houses. remember the dem and republican numbers are those against them. and now, the new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll shows it is just as bad. president's approval rating is underwater, plus stuck with a congress that is viewed even worse. the majority of americans think the nation is on the wrong track and is worse or stagnant under obama. they're also fed up with the state of our economy.
we will get into political implications of tonight's speech in a little bit with former dnc chair howard dean, but one thing that's sure to be in tonight's address is education. last year, president obama pushed hard for early childhood education for every single child in america. >> every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than $7 later on by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. we know this works. so let's do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. let's give our kids that chance. [ applause ] >> but the president did not get universal pre-k. in fact, of all of the asks that he laid out last year, he only got two of them. that's less than 5%. yeah, i was pretty good at math. >> oh. >> and i'm sure that education secretary arnie duncan is good at math, as well, and he joins us now from the white house. secretary, thank you so much for
being with us. >> good afternoon. thank you so much for the opportunity. >> of course. so let's talk about the state of the union tonight to start with. are we likely to hear the same goal in terms of universal pre-k? there was also a goal from last year on revamping the high school curriculum to refocus it for the tech economy. do you think we'll hear more on those proposals, or new things laid out, and do you have hope that we'll see progress on the initiatives? >> first of all, across the country, we've seen real progress. we have high school graduation rates at 30-year highs, dropout rates are down, the number of young people going to college is up. we've made real progress. we have a long way to go. and we always talk about a cradle-to-career agenda. so the focus on early childhood is hugely, hugely important. what's so interesting to me this has become the ultimate bipartisan issue in the real world. in fact, you have more republican governors than democratic investing in high-quality early learning opportunities. we're going to continue to make sure young people are graduating from high school, college,
career-ready and the goal can't be just to graduate from high school. it's some form of higher education. four-year universities, two-year community colleges, vocational, technical training. >> one of the things that we're hearing that the president is going to focus on tonight, and more broadly is income inequality, and that plays itself out at the broader level in our economy and also right in our school system where we have a huge disparity between some great public schools and some that are really troubled and failing. and i wanted to ask you, you know, people like me, i'm able to move into a district that has a good public school. a lot of folks have the ability to send their kids to private schools. and i think that ability among people who have money and opportunity creates an apathy around the national emergency that is reforming our public education system. so i've been thinking, not that this is a real policy proposal, but intellectually, if you have a lottery where every kid in the country got randomly assigned to a school and they had to go there, don't you think there would be more urgency around
solving this problem? >> that's a very interesting sort of thought process. obviously, that kind of thing is never going to happen. but we're all in this together. and if we want to have a thriving and growing middle class, i'm convinced the path to the middle class runs straight through america's classrooms. we want every child, every family to have great educational options, great schools to choose from. and we cannot be complacent. i've challenged parents very publicly to demand more from their children, to have higher expectations. we're driving a very strong reform agenda, you know, looking for better results for young people. and we have to work with tremendous urgency. and our young -- our children, my children, your children, aren't competing for jobs in their communities or their state or district, but competing for jobs with young people in singapore, south korea, india, and our children deserve the best education, not something inferior to what children in other parts of the world are going. we have to awaken the american public and we have to work on
this together. >> you talk about the children competing. one child at the white house science fair earlier, and i was speaking to one of your colleagues today in the white house, who mentioned joey hutty here on the screen with the marshmallow cannon in that official box for the state of the union, now 16 years old, intel's youngest intern, and he is, according to some people, an example of the kind of person that you want to use in the science, technology, engineering, and math programs. he showed off this -- we're seeing it on the screen, the marshmallow cannon, and the president was impressed with that. >> i'm impressed with that. >> we're impressed, and we want to toast the marshmallows, but before we do that, tell us how it affects a broader policy program with s.t.e.m. >> i can tell you, the president talked to me two, three times when that cannon. fascinated by it. we know so many of the good jobs, the high-wage, high-skilled jobs, middle-class jobs, the futures will require skills in the s.t.e.m. area, and
the more we're preparing not just the high school students but the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh graders, young people going on to high school, taking a.p. chemistry, biology, physics and pursuing the careers, they're great, great jobs out there. the focus on s.t.e.m. is where we'll continue to have a laser-like focus on. >> let me take you down a more dangerous avenue in all of this, because, as you've said, you cannot learn when you feel unsafe or damaged on campus, and you've written that the administration is committed to ending the rape-permissive culture, that's your term, on many college campuses. what does that exactly mean, and how do you do that? >> well, i think many of us, the president, the vice president, myself, have just been very, very disturbed by the number of sexual assaults and rapes on college campuses. and we all, you know, want to send our daughters and sons off to school to learn, to pursue their dreams but to do that, as you said, they have to be safe. and we're getting more and more complaints in our department, which we'll continue to
investigate, and we're thrilled that young people feel that they can now come to us and get help, about you would he have to get ahead of this. and so, we're really challenging university presidents and leaders on campuses and students themselves to build a culture where this is absolutely unacceptable. and we're going to take on the tough issues. we're never going to go hide from the brutal truth, and the only way the situations get better is we address them very publicly and directly, which the president did recently. the vice president's talked about this for years, and we're going to continue to push this until we see a climate that is much safer, much more support e supportive, and less accepting of this kind of behavior on college campuses. this has no place, no place -- and i've heard just heartwrenching, gutwrenching stories of people who have had horrific things happen to them, and none of us, none of us want to see that continue. >> secretary, i want to get your take more broadly on the department of education, obviously signed into '79 under president carter to improve the public infrastructure and here we are in 2014, as you said, we still have a long way to go. the dropout rate is
unsustainably high. test scores still below average, especially in math. and you have folks, especially on the right, who say what has the true value been in the department of education as opposed to maybe fighting this fight on more on the local level? and you've seen this on the local level in chicago where you were able to get a lot done. are you seeing something that we're not? >> sorry, could you say that last question -- >> are you seeing something that we're not, more on the federal level, in terms of getting more done? >> it has to be all of us working together, the federal, state, local level. so often in education, this is the wrong debate. this for me is the wrong debate. i'm very, very optimistic. again, high school graduation rates are at 30-year highs. dropout rates are down significantly, particularly in the african-american and latino rates, huge reductions there, which is fantastic. more young people going to college. we just have to get better faster. and we all have a role to play. education will always be the focus will be at the local level. but we need states that are supporting high standards. and we do so much, whether it's on the early childhood side or
whether it's making college more accessible and affordable, one things most proud of an additional $40 billion for pell grants to help people go on to college and pursue their dreams. many first-generation college goers, all of us have to challenge each other, but work together. we're trying to help young people. we're trying to strengthen families, and ultimately, we're trying to strengthen the nation's economy. >> absolutely. it is great to hear that progress. thank you so much for joining us today, secretary arnie duncan. >> thank you so much have a great day. >> you, too. up next, the politics of the speech with howard dean, our "cycle" style state of the union countdown coverage rolls on for tuesday, january 28. ♪ [ male announcer ] bob's heart attack didn't come with a warning. today his doctor has him on a bayer aspirin regimen to help reduce the risk of another one. if you've had a heart attack, be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. where their electricity comes from. they flip the switch-- and the light comes on. it's our job to make sure that it does.
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you are looking at a fancy word cloud which shows how americans view our nation in the brand-new nbc news poll, downhill, wrong track, are the most prominent, but right direction is not too far behind. so can the president capitalize on any of these moods tonight? well, who better to preview what's at stake than former democratic party leader dr. and former presidential candidate, howard dean. >> long title. >> thanks for having me on. >> absolutely. i want to start with people many people liked about your presidential campaign. you didn't just run for a job, you really took on a failed democratic in washington establishment. here is -- here is president obama trying to do something like that in the 2012 state of the union. take a listen. >> some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of congress. let's make sure people who
bundle campaign contributions for congress can't lobby kang. some of what's broken has to do with the way congress does its business these days. a simple majority is no longer enough to get anything, even routine business, passed through the senate. for starters, i asked the senate to pass a simple rule, that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days. >> he got a version of that rule passed, governor, but how hard is it to run and push against the very broken system that you want to enact your agenda? >> well, actually, it's good politics. you know, the president's numbers are not great, burr the congress' numbers are awful. really awful. i think the american people know congress is a failed institution. and i expect some of that tonight. i expect the president is going to tell the nation that he has a job to do, and he's going to do that job, and if congress wants to stand in the way, he's going to do his best to run over them. the congress won't like it very
much. you're not going to hear a lot of applause. the public is going to like it. >> no, indeed, the president's definitely signaling that he's just going to run over the house, which has not been willing to work with him, since day one, been saying i'm going to use my pen more, more executive orders, because he wants his final years to be productive and not marred by more on strukz obstruction. the republicans cannot on instruct any more than they already are, but john boehner saying there will be political peril for the president to do this. but my question, why shouldn't he if the legislative branch is broken and refuses to move forward? >> that's exactly right. he has to do this. if he doesn't, he's letting a group of people that represents narrow interests, and certainly not the best interests of the country, to do that. this is his time to side with the american people against an institution that's become completely absorbed with its own re-elections. >> governor, you were just referencing how lousy congress
is and how poorly it's viewed, and gallup has new numbers that underscore that point. only 17% of americans say that most of congress deserves re-election, which is a historic low, and just for a reference point, just back in 2012, 36% said that most of congress deserves re-election. and this number is perhaps even more interesting. 46% say their member deserves rere-election. you know, typically people say, congress stinks but my member is good and deserves to be put back. increasingly, people are saying my member needs to go. do you think there's any hope we could see a wave election that would give this president in 2014 a congress he could actually work with? >> there's some hope for that. i think after the huge hassle over the debt ceiling, where the republicans tried to put the -- essentially put the country into
bankruptcy for a short time in order to get their way, that was a time. after that, if the election had been held two weeks after that, we would -- the democrat wuss have won. i think now, of course, with the website collapse, it's harder. so, you know, the thing about this is, people are making the pronouncements now, but what's going to happen in the election in 2016, leave alone 2014, you can't really predict 2014 right now. there are a lot of things that will happen. i would say we won't have a really good view into the 2014 election probably until june or july, and even after that, sometimes big things happen to throw everything into a cocktail, where nobody can predict what those things might be. >> governor, speaking of the long title, you are also a doctor. obviously, you know the ins and outs of health care. you've given a few state of the state addresses yourself. if you were the president tonight, what do you think is the right message around health care given that, you know, there are a number of americans where the law is still not sitting well. in our latest poll, 59% who disapprove of the implementation.
you yourself have been tough son the rollout. what would you say tonight? >> i would actually talk about the positives. i wouldn't spend a lot of time on it. but i think the president can say, you know, there are 4 million people, or 6 million, whatever the number is, if you include medicaid, that now have health insurance that didn't before. there's some people, and i wouldn't be surprised if he actually had people in the audience, there are a lot of stories about people who have seen their health care bills drop, have seen their kids get decent health care for the first time in their lives, and hopefully some of those will be in the audience. i wouldn't spend most of my time on the health care piece. that's where it is. it'll get better for the president as we head towards the election, simply because more people will be covered, fewer pre-existing conditions are going to disqualify people. but it will take some time. >> and surely, to hit on a obamacare, are the republicans, before i let you go, i want to get your take on the number of responses coming from republicans. it's now up to four tea partier mike lee, a republican response, of course, rand paul, i'm
thinking of given my own response, and krystal is giving her plutocrat response in her rant, and what do you think, is it an opportunity for the republicans to stand united behind what they believe they're messaging and this will be drowned out by so many voices. >> yeah, i think that -- i think there could be 50 responses. anybody can give a response. the question is, what gets covered. i do not think that even rand paul, who i suppose is the official republican spokesman, is going to get the kind of coverage the president does. >> yeah. >> this is the president's night. and you can't take that away from him. for years, the other party, whether it's the democrats or the republicans, have been getting a place to give their ten-minute response. nobody cares what they say. >> unless it goes badly. >> unless it goes badly. very few of them have gone well, to be honest with you. very few responses have gone well. >> sort of a curse. >> governor, we hope some day to get your response to one of the responses. >> you probably -- you won't have any trouble doing that, just look at twitter. >> all right. we'll look for you on twitter,
governor howard dean. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for your time. what do all of you out there think the state of the union is? well, we asked you and we got this upload. this cat says, "utterly dependent on our full participation." that is a purrr-fect response. no, diswe "paws" a moment? you know, seriously, "paws" a moment? can you submit your answers using #sotuis, and head to msnbc.com for the other responses. you have msnbc's special coverage of the state of the union. it kicks off at 9:00 eastern. rachel maddow, chris matthews, and we focus next on one where president obama's word could
lead to action. ken salazar joins us. if i can impart one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone. there's not one way to do something. no details too small. american express open forum.
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we are back with a quick weather alert. 60 million of us don't need to be told it is cold outside. two-thirds of those affected have visible proof. snow and ice is moving through parts of the country and in amounts that many haven't seen in generations. we're talking about the carolinas, alabama, even as far south as the big easy where getting around today isn't easy. rafael miranda is back with us. krista is concerned about the super bowl forecast. what can you tell us? >> the forecast looks good. temperature near 40 degrees. quiet. no major storms in the northeast. on the contrary, though, we're dealing with a powerful and massive storm right now across the south. now getting into its most dangerous time here. you can see the winter storm advisories and warnings extend from texas right through new jersey, much of the south is
dealing with roads that are impassable. in fact, a civil emergency message issued for birmingham urging everyone to stay off the roads. they're becoming quickly coated with snow and sleet, and only emergency vehicles should be out there. snow right now in atlanta, we have ice conditions in new orleans, mobile, montgomery, and now snow moving into the carolinas, as well. of course, the snow will be a problem overnight tonight, as the temperatures drop, and we're expecting anywhere from 6 to 12 inches in places that don't see a whole lot of snow. we're talking about coastal north carolina into virginia, even down towards charleston, south carolina, 3 to 6 inches of snow down into myrtle beach and wilmington. these are parts of the country that don't deal well with the wintry weather. they just don't have the resources. but they're going to get socked nonetheless. we're expecting 8 to 12 inches of snow in virginia beach. this is by tomorrow morning. places like columbia, south carolina, 2 to 4 inches. this is the type of weather that can paralyze the region for many days. besides the snow, ice accumulations will be significant. this is the type of ice, half an inch, that can knock down power,
and folks in the southeast should be prepared to be without power for days. besides that southern storm, wind chills still brutal in the midwest. it feels like 13 in new york city. and it feels like 24 below in green bay. we're even going to see snow in new york city overnight tonight from the storm. it is a massive storm. but we are expecting warmer conditions, so by the super bowl, by the weekend, we're expecting temperatures back to the low 40s. so we're going to thaw things out very nicely. right now, game time looks to be a temperature around 34 degrees with light winds. so chilly, what we expect. but nothing too brutal and no major storms for the super bowl. back to you. >> i am so relieved. >> i'm glad you're relieved. >> thank you so much. all right. we move now to a cloud over washington. immigration. the president is expected to mention the issue during his state of the union address tonight, but our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll begs the question, will anyone actually be listening? we are luck to have the ear of former interior secretary ken salazar this afternoon.
thank you so much for joining us, sir. >> thank you very much, krystal. it's good to be with you. >> so let's start with the state of the union tonight. what are you hoping that the president will say on the issue of immigration? because, as toure was pointing out, it's a bit tricky. on the one hand, it's something he's interested in, something he's been pushing, something he pushed in last year's state of the union, but it's also an issue where there is a chance that republicans may actually do something, so you don't want to overpoliticize it. >> well, i think what you're going to hear from the president is that he wants an action agenda in washington. i don't think he is about getting the credit for himself, and if congress, in fact, does act and they have action on immigration reform, that would be the best. in fact, that's what he's been pushing for for a long time. and given the strong support that comprehensive immigration reform has from so many places, the u.s. chamber of commerce, to the united farm workers of america, the faith community, everybody is behind getting something done. and so, it seems to me that even though there may be a theme of
action from the executive branch, i think you're also going to see an outreach to congress to actually act on some things that it can get done. and i think immigration reform is one of those things that we'll get done, and i think its time has come. >> secretary, i think the center of this argument is whether or not the 11 million undocumenteds who are here end up with citizenship out of this process. republicans are saying they are willing to discuss a plan that gives them legalization, but not citizenship, which their base likes because they feel like giving them citizenship rewards illegal behavior. of course, democrats are saying, without citizenship, we are giving -- we are creating a second-class citizenship, or second-class sort of american-ness for millions of folks who would then have taxation without representation. obviously, that's not the american way. there's no middle ground on this. either these folks get a pathway, or they don't. how do we get out of that? >> well, i think more and more i hear republican interests,
including in the business community, the chamber of commerce, parts of the faith community that happen to fall on the republican side, all saying that we do need a pathway to citizenship. i think this is a sine qua non, and i think reasonable minds will come to the place that the minds came to, and that is that a pathway to citizenship is part of the comprehensive immigration reform. at the end, it's economic and moral. the economic argument for immigration reform can be made time and again, but at the same time, there's a moral imperative here that we're not a country that essentially has two different classes of people who live in our country. we're taking people out of the shadows, and we ought not subject them into going into a second-class status forever here in the united states. >> well, secretary, when you look at the republican party and its outreach to hispanic americans here, which is a part of the this issue, tonight they
have one of their official formal responses to the state of the union being delivered in spanish by congresswoman elana ros-lehtinen, and that's great. and yet, if you look at the last congress, 49% of the republican caucus, 118 members, sponsored legislation that would actually do the opposite and require official functions of the u.s. to be conducted in english. again, 49% of this republican caucus there last term saying they tonight want this even allowed. can you untangle where the republican party is on this, and is it enough to give the speeches in spanish, if they don't have the policy record even to back it up? >> you know, i think unless the republican party embraces in a very real authentic way the latino community in the united states, i think their future is gone. i was a u.s. senator from colorado working at that time with senator mccain and senator kennedy and senator kyle and others on the floor, and i still remember the conversation on the floor. in fact, the comment made by
senator mccain that unless republican party moved to embrace comprehensive immigration reform, the republican party would lose its way for generation. and if you look at the results of the 2008 election, the 2012 election, that is essentially what is happening here. >> prophetic. >> and for republicans to move forward and get comprehensive immigration reform right they have to do it in an authentic way. >> secretary, i'd love to get your take on the keystone pipeline. it's been in the works for a long type. it's a real immediate opportunity for thousands of jobs, which, by the way, is the number-one issue for americans. and given these realities, what would you advise the president do with the pipeline? >> well, first of all, i don't think it's going to be a subject for the state of the union, because my view of it is, there are lots of other things that need to be talked about in the state of the union. i think the president has been clear there's a process that's unfolding at the state department. the arguments can be made both ways for the pipeline and against the pipeline. and i think there is a -- we
will see what the decision is that is made there in the future. >> do you support it? >> you know, for me, the keystone pipeline, frankly, the argument has been one that has not been framed in the right way. i think there are ways in which the pipeline could be built, at the same time major investments could be made in the carbon, the dakota grasslands and other places. but the argument has been too polemical to allow essentially a reasoned way to figure out a way of moving forward, because the oil is going to be consumed somehow here in the united states of america. canada is our greatest trading partner to the north. but the problem is that the way in which the debate has been formatted over the last several years, i don't think it's been helpful to a good resolution that actually would help our environment at the same time enhance the energy security. >> all right, secretary salazar, thank you so much for your thoughts and your time. >> thank you very much. and up next, the speech itself. how do you choose exactly the right words to woo the worst
congress in history? we'll ask presidential speech writing master michael waldman. that's next. [ female announcer ] we lowered her fever. you raise her spirits. we tackled your shoulder pain. you make him rookie of the year. we took care of your cold symptoms. you take him on an adventure. tylenol® has been the number 1 doctor recommended brand of pain reliever
with intuitive all-wheel drive because winter needs a hero. ♪ the guest list is set for tonight's state of the union address. the president's guests who will sit with the first lady include survivors of the boston marathon bombing carlos arrendondo and jeff bauman from the iconic photo, and jason collins, the first openly gay male athlete in an american team sport and jerry bird who rallied his community in the aftermath of a devastating tornado in moore, oklahoma. guests of boehner include small business owners from his district who says obamacare has made it harder for them to hire and the republican congressman is bringing willie robertson from "duck dynasty" who is the son of phil robertson, who made the controversial remarks from gq. >> that's a nice touch. that will bring people together. >> -- the unspoken message and
cadence of the speech itself, no details is too small. the process is so intense that obama's speech writer cody kenan has not shaved his beard since he began working on it last november. michael waldman knows all about particular the former director of speech writing for president bill clinton and now president of the brennan center for justice. it's great to have you, as always. look, times are not great for the president. poll after poll shows his numbers are down, that confidence is down, and the latest nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, 68% say the country is worse off since he took office, and even senator reid admitted this afternoon that these speeches can get a little boring. take a look. >> -- anything he might decide he's going to announce, approve -- >> the only thing that would ever trouble me is that reid start dozing off. okay? other than that, i'll do my -- >> has it happened before? >> well, i have frankly dozed off once or twice. not during the obama years, of course. >> of course, not during the obama years. >> no.
>> but, michael, what do you say? what does the president say to get people to actually hear his message? >> well, the one thing is that for all his challenges and difficulties and the anger people feel, also, toward congress, toward the dysfunction and division of congress, this is still in this crazy and chaotic media environment, the one chance he or any president gets to talk straight to the country, unmediated at length about policy. and i certainly think he ought not be guided just by what the caucus -- the republicans in congress -- will pass, but more kind of broadly, what -- where does he think the country ought to go? you've identified some really interesting splits in way in public opinion. the economy is actually starting to pick up. and there's no question that it's better off than it was at the beginning of his term when we faced the worst financial collapse, you know, in 75 years.
but there hasn't been the narrative, the public sense that things are getting better. >> right. >> i think washington and its dysfunction has a lot to do with that. i hope the president surprises us with optimism tonight and a can-do spirit rather than bemoaning where we all are. >> michael, the language choices used in these speeches is so critical to sort of putting forward the message. i'm hearing the president will move away from using the term "income inequality" in favor of the term of "ladders of opportunity" and those sort of small but nonsemantical differences in word choice can be hugely influential. >> that's right. well, when we were doing this with bill clinton, we knew -- he knew certainly -- that talking about saving medicare or strengthening medicare or reforming medicare, or modernizing medicare, may all describe the same policy, but they mean very different things to different audiences. you know, i think this is -- i hope the president's going to avoid the trap that some of his critics have laid, which is to
talk about inequality somehow is to be un-american and talk about class warfare. that basic idea of opportunity, that's the american dream, that's the civic religion, you know, that preamble to the declaration of independence that we're all created equal. of course, the greatest threat to opportunity, one of the great threats is this crazy, widening inequality. so, you know, no president can go wrong talking about opportunity. and i think that that is the most hopeful aspirational forward-leaning way to talk about it. >> there's also going to be a time for emotion. take a listen to president obama in last year's state of the union. >> each of these proposals deserves a vote in congress. these proposals deserve a vote. they deserve a vote. they deserve a simple vote. they deserve a vote. >> that was intense, as he discussed the fact that the victims of gun violence deserve a vote. this year, on one agenda item,
the voting rights act, you could say people deserve to vote. i know that's an issue the brennan center works on a lot. give us the insight there. >> that's a great question. you'll remember, a year ago the president powerfully decried the disgrace of people having to wait on line for hours to vote. well, what's happened since then? two things. one is, he himself appointed a bipartisan commission to come up with ways to improve voting. and that commission, which is full of, you know, tough-minded democrats and republicans, they actually came up with a very strong set of proposals. and the other thing that's happened, of course, is the supreme court gutted the voting rights act, the most successful civil rights statute probably in the country's history. >> mm-hmm. >> and there, too, there's actually a bipartisan effort -- congressman sensenbrenner and congressman john lewis and john conyers, and backed, i believe, i understand, by eric cantor, to
fix it, of all things where voting that you guys and we all know has been so partisan, so divisive, so much a subject of discourse. there's actually -- that's an area where there's a chance for bipartisan progress, and i do hope he seizes the chance to talk about it. that would be a very hopeful moment. >> michael, what is the real, and in your view, the most important impact that a great state of the union address can have? >> you know, there are occasionally moments where a president can crystallize an argument, such as when franklin roosevelt talked about the four freedoms. there are other times when a president can change the debate by putting forward a surprising new proposal. i mean, when i worked with president clinton in 1998, we surprised people by putting out a proposal that said, we ought to use the surplus for social security rather than the tax cut. and that actually changed policy right there on the spot, when everyone stood up and applauded. you know, what's interesting is i think that president obama has not often availed himself of the
drama of this speech, the chance to surprise. the surprise doesn't just come from kind of nifty, rhyming words. it often has to do with a new policy initiative and new agenda item. and i don't know if he's going to do that this year. he's chosen for whatever reason not to be no-drama obama goes up to the podium every year and lives up to that. >> yeah, you also want to keep people awake. i remember vice president joe biden nodding off a few times in the speech. >> he was deep in thought. >> right. >> michael, thank you, we appreciate your take. >> thanks. and up next, a break from all of the state of the union talk for some culture, an in-depth look at controversial '60s icon william burrows and folk singing icon pete seeger died, and i'll pass this to toure. >> his influence cannot be overstated. ♪ where have all the flowers gone ♪ >> for 70 years, his voice was
heard through his songs such as "where have all the flowers gone" "if i had a hammer," "kisses sweeter than wine" and the music was a backdrop for his activism and protest against the rich and the powerful. vietnam, civil rights and its anthem, "we shall overcome," match seeger and the movements. it all culminated in this, 2009 at 89 years young, seeger performing with his grandson and some guy named springsteen at the first obama inauguration. ♪ this land was made for you me ♪ pete seeger, no matter what you thought of his politics, his words and music will live on forever. as one robert zimmerman said, without pete seeger, there would never have been a bob dylan. your eyes really are unique.
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and as real as a heart attack. his name? william burrows. >> yeah, anyone can use drugs and escape a horrible fate is an example of these idiots. i predict in the near future right-wingers will use druggist area as a pretext to set up an international police apparatus. >> you might have missed your calling. you should have been a philosopher. >> indeed he was a philosopher, a landmark but biography of the man says, quote, the role of drugs in boroughs' life cannot be overstated. in old age, he felt becoming a junkie was the best thing he ever did, because without it, he would not have written "the naked lunch" or encountered the underground characters that populate his world. barry miles is the author, and he knew him for many decades, so
he's in the guest spot. barry, you say the biggest influence on him was whatever drugs he was into at that time that affected him chemically and socially in chemically and socially. let's talk about "naked lunch." what was he dealing with at that time? >> well, it began in tangier. he was on a painkiller that was developed in germany. it made people high. they discontinued it. he bought up all the stocks. he had a terrible time getting off of it. and he always claimed, of course, that he never wrote anything meaningful on drugs, but most of "naked lunch" was written on some form of very strong pot or that painkiller.
the book didn't take shape until after quite a few years of his writining routines and musings. >> the drugs scandalize people. "the naked lunch" was banned. it may appeal to deviants. it is grossly offensive. we can't say "naked lunch" has no importance. they overturned that book ban. >> there had been many others, of course, with henry miller around and lady chatterly. under freedom in america, you can write anything you want no
matter how embarrassing it is, no matter how reprehensible or obscene you have the right to write it down and publish it. >> he had such a broad impact on the 60s, 70s, 80s. what was it about his writing that influenced some of the greatest? >> he was prepared to deal with subjects that no one before tackled. he used his experience as a junky to write about areas of experience that no one else has really touched on at all. for them, he was a pioneer, going out there, experiencing all this stuff, and coming back and reporting on it so they didn't have to do it. >> fantastic. barry miles, thank you very much. the republicans will have at least four responses to
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hello. i'm here on behalf of the 1%. well, really on behalf of the 1% of the 1%. the bottom rung of the 1% are a bunch of losers. now normally we do just allow the republicans to respond on our behalf, but we had to set the record straight directly. don't look at me like that. i'm sure in tonight's state of the union we'll hear talk of
inequality, of a living wage, class warfare. we are victims of persecution, demonized by this president. we are not going to stand by and take this abuse. yes, the state of the union for us is persecuted. tom perkins outlined the state of our union best in his letter to the "wall street journal." i perceive a rising tide of hatred in the successful 1%. he is now being unfairly attacked simply for stating the obvious, that attacks on the 1% are akin to hitler's attacks on the jews. the parallels to the nazis are
eerie. then there's the ceo of j.p. morgan who received a small increase in the cost of living. he's now facing all sorts of criticism from the haters and the class warriors. sure in 2013 j.p. morgan had to pay billions in ponzi schemes and other mishaps. think about how much they would have had to pay if jamie wasn't at the helm? how exactly are we supposed to create record profits by shifting piles of money around if we have to follow all of these rules? what we want is simple.
first, we want you to like us and constantly express your unending gratitude. good job. we like you. you're welcome, nation. second, we just want the free market to be allowed to work. well, to work in our favor, that is. i know there's been some confusion about this. corporate subsidies, tax write-offs, that's part of insent vising us to do our thing in the free market. allowing people to unionize, that's a socialist front to our free market system. why am i talking to you anyway? i should do what we normally do and talk straight to the politicians. they are much more understanding of how things are supposed to
work. let me just get out my checkbook and start spreading the cash first. all right, that does it for the "cycle." alex, it is all yours. the state of the union depends on who you're talking to. it is tuesday, january 28th, and this is "now" live from capitol hill. >> the state -- >> of our union. >> there's a lot of pressure on this one. >> it's all about action. >> action. >> the call for action. >> taking action. >> a year of action. >> taking ae ining action is gee points on the board. >> 2013 was a lost year. >> he got two. >> bobble it up in my committee during a collection and so we can kill it when you're not looking. >> the country is strong and